Thursday, February 24, 2011


Grey clouds loomed over the proceedings as Steve's casket was wheeled out onto the mound. Rain drizzled down onto the green grass and the family sobbed and dripped goobers into their black sleeves.

"Oh shit," Tim said, looking down into the fishbowl at the tiny funeral.
"What's up?" Bobby asked, without looking up from his computer monitor whilst playing ski-free.
"One of them died."
"They do that."
"It was Steve," Tim said, one hand resting on the fish bowl.
"That means nothing to me."
"The one with the grey stringy hair? Angie loved him. He farted in his chair and then contentedly stayed sitting there. He said things like 'Those butt-poop yankees just gotta respect our freedom. Merica.' He was awesome."
Bobby laughed and sucked on some of the beer.
"Dude, we're the worst pet sitters," Tim said, distraught. "Angie is going to be heartbroken."
"It's just a human. Chill. We'll go to the pet store later and pick up a new one."
"Angie will know the difference."
"Nah they all look the same.
"And you just want to dump it in the fish bowl with all the other humans? Don't you think they'll know the difference?"
"Buddy, you're super boring when you're uptight. Do you want to bang Angie or something?"
"Why would you say that?" Tim said. "Angie is a super classy celestial life form. And, yes, duh. Why else would we be watching her humans when she's out of town?"
"Niiiiice," Bobby said. "When are you going to do it?"
"Commence the intercourse. When she gets back?"
"She doesn't know I like her yet," Tim said. "I'm super nervous to talk to her about it."
"Dude, you're the most pussey of all of the dieties," Bobby said.
"Let's go to the pet store."

Two hours later they returned to their apartment. Tim had a plastic ziplock bag in his hand with tiny holes so the human, no bigger than the size of his palm, could breathe. Tim unzipped the baggee and dumped the human unceremoniously into the fish bowl. Tim and Bobby lowered themselves so they were eye level with the fishbowl. The tiny man plopped to the ground of the tank. Oblivious to the two giant powerful beings peering in at him, the human picked himself up, dusted off his suit, and began walking throughout the town. In what was only an hour of Tim and Bobby's time, the human had found a job at a tools and supplies factory (a factory that manufactures things needed to make more things) and entered into a warm, pleasant, and passionless relationship. Aimlessly, he went about his life and embarked on tasks as empty and meaningless as possible. He bought the CDs he was supposed to buy and watched the tv that was supposed to be hip. He met people and developed relationships but never got to know anyone including himself. He learned to surf and bought the right hoodies and cried himself to sleep at night.

Bobby flicked the side of the fish bowl with his thumb. "How loud do you think that is to them?"

A group of tiny humans looked up and scratched their heads, searching the skies for lightning that would never come.

"Don't be a jerk," Tim said.
"Seems like he's a good one," Bobby said. "He's fitting in nicely."
"Yeah," Tim said.
"Should we call him Steve number 2?"
"That is a nice touch."
"They certainly do mess up the bowl a lot with all their waste. How often do you need to clean it out?"
"Every 5,000 years their time, About every couple months our time," Tim said.
"Weird, it seems like they're crapping up the fish bowl a lot. I would have guessed you do it more often."
"They seem to like their own waste."
"So are you going to call Angie?"
"I guess. I don't know. It doesn't matter anyway."
"Right," Bobby said.

Bobby ordered a pizza while Tim sat by the fish bowl, watching tv, but not paying attention. They spent the evening quiet and distant from each other and only commenting on random things on tv every hour or so. Inside the fishbowl Steve's widow hadn't stopped crying yet.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pet Sitting

Bonnie's parents dropped her off at the Stephenson's home and waited outside in the truck. She waved them away anxiously, terrified and embarrassed that Mr. Stephenson would see her perky suburban blonde parents sitting in their Ford, eating McDonalds. Bonnie jumped up and down, waving desperately for them to leave, yelling "You're embarrassing me!" at the top of her lungs while strangers peered out their curtains to see what the commotion was. "Stop being so overprotective!" Mr. Stephenson nodded from his window with a raspy chuckle. Bonnie's parents drove off and left her there without waving goodbye.

Relieved, she walked up the grey, peeling steps to Mr. Stephenson's house and rang the doorbell. There was a broken down truck in the driveway. After what felt like an hour he came to the door in a wife beater tank top, his pale hairy belly hanging out the bottom. He had prematurely grey long hair and smelled like cigarette smoke. Bonnie smiled politely and held out her hand to shake his.

Mr. Stephenson shrugged, grunted and ushered her inside. In the house was a disgusting smell, bits of old food and dirty laundry lay all over. Dog poop piled up in the corner. Bonnie stood there for a moment, afraid to look anywhere and settling on her own feet. She waited for Mr. Stephenson to say something and he waited for her to say something. Eventually he cleared his throat.

"So this is where I keep the food and water tins," he grunted. He proceeded to show Bonnie the basic proceedings to care for his dog while he was out of town. Bonnie shifted her weight anxiously from foot to foot.

A woman in a long off white nightdress made out of sweatshirt fabric came down the stairs. Her grey hair hung down her back in a greasy tangle. She stopped when she saw Bonnie.

"Who the hell is that?" the woman inquired to Mr. Stephenson.
"I don't know," he answered with a shrug.
"What?" Bonnie chirped. "Hi, I'm Bonnie." She stuck out her hand at the woman. "I'm pet sitting next week when Mr. Stephenson is out of town and he just wanted to show me the house.
The woman neglected to shake her hand and barked at Stephenson, "You're going out of town!?"
"WE are going out of town," he answered.
"Are you Mr. Stephenson's mom?" Bonnie asked.
"Yes," she answered.
"No," he said simultaneously. "This is my girlfriend Charlotte,"
"I'm his... okay, whatever," she said.

Mr. Stephenson continued to show Bonnie around the house, now seemingly pointing out things that had nothing to do with the dog. "This is the ironing board; this is the beer bottle Charlotte pees in when I'm tying up the bathroom..." Bonnie wondered if he had forgotten why she was there.

"May I meet the dog?" she asked.
"What?" Mr. Stephenson said.
"The dog... I'd like to meet him before...."
"What dog?"
"What the hell is going on?" Charlotte yelled.
"I'm supposed to dog sit, right?" Bonnie asked.
"I thought you were going to bring your own dog."
"Is this some kind of sick joke?" Charlotte asked. "My dog died several years ago. Is this the kind of bullshit manners your parents teach you? Get the fuck out of here."

Bonnie left in a nervous flutter, cheeks burning and tears behind her eyes. She walked home and as she did so she saw a truck race past her towards her house. She thought she saw Mr. Stephenson driving it. When she got home someone had dumped piles of dog food out on her front lawn. Her parents stood on the front porch with their arms crossed, scowling and waiting.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

New outfit

I sat at the lunch table trying to eat my tuna fish sandwich. I clumsily gripped the soft wheat bread between my fingers, pinching too hard and leaving mushy prints. I lifted the sandwich and jammed it messily into my mouth. I chewed for a few moments and swallowed uncomfortably. My friends sat around me chatting and laughing. My eyes swelled in my sockets as I observed, watering as I moistened and clogged the bread into my epiglotas.

Their conversation was like a ping pong match because their words bounced across the table and there wasn't any reason for anyone to be sweating. I felt guilty perspiring all over my new outfit. I subtly shifted my arms a little, hoping that creating an airflow would lessen the potential for B.O.

I laughed too loudly at things that weren't meant to be funny. My friends looked at me and rolled their eyes. One of them muttered, "Is that your real laugh?" Do you really think that it's fake? Why would I choose this laugh voluntarily? I grappled at their conversation, trying to hang afloat, like a kitten being shoved off a boat in the middle of a sea of toilet water. They talked about movies I hadn't seen and comic books I hadn't read. I yelped and muttered things semi-on topic but still strikingly obtuse, thought bubbles in a different color creeping out from my cloudy alien brain.

I felt like a puppy begging for attention and getting routinely pushed face first under the table, out of the way. I said several stupid remarks about the table, lunch, my friend's hair. It felt like they were all speaking French and I only knew four French words. I kept listening to their conversation, trying to keep up and blurting out whenever I heard something familiar. Burning with embarrassment I shoved food into my face just to stop myself from talking.

We thought things would have been different after Abby was gone. That they would start noticing me and treating me like her. She had been the bell of the ball, if by ball I mean every group of people in social situations you could possibly imagine that would make you anxious and feel like a bloated freaky cow. She was the bell of the balls of society and society had giant disgusting throbbing blue balls for pretty outgoing girls like her. After she left, I assumed I would get her treatment. I don't think they even noticed. They were treating me the same way, as a weird annoyance.

Now Jennifer was the leader. She was the new Abby. Jennifer was beautiful, smart, adorable, friendly, loud, outgoing, charming, charismatic, and wonderful. Why hadn't I seen it before? She was more the lovable leader than Abby ever was. I watched her as she spoke, pretty perfect lips formed clear clever sentences. When she said something people quieted down, turned to her, and listened. Watching them listening to her was like sex, because it happens to me so rarely when it does I usually mess up.

Walking home I thought obsessively about Jennifer, re-imagining what it would be like to be her. I thoughtfully lusted after the way she talked and the way people listened in a friendly manner. I enviously mused over how she rarely said something stupid, accidentally mean, or uncomfortable.

Each step felt clumsy, like it wasn't mine anymore. My feet wobbled like jello on the harsh sidewalk, my bones slipping inside my mushy feet. A sick swelling rose in my entire body. I wanted to scream at the ugly flowers on my neighbors lawn, "why not me? why never me!" I fought the urge to throw up and my face slid slightly out of place on my anxious head.

I let myself inside and walked up into my room. In front of the full length mirror I looked into Abby's disheveled uncomfortable face. Her silent lips hung sad and useless on my jaw. I reached for the zipper and unzipped Abby's skin suit. It fell in a lumpy pile to the ground. I stepped out of it, naked. I avoided eye contact with my own body in the mirror. The cold breeze sweetly nestled against my flubby, sweaty stomach. My hair, drenched in the inner moistness of Abby's skin, was pulled into a clammy ponytail.

I kicked Abby's skin suit to the side of my room. I didn't want to be that girl anymore. It was futile. I opened the window wider to wash out the scent of her decaying epidermis. Her blood dribbled on the hardwood floor in tiny freckles. I was slightly embarrassed at how disgusting I was. Anyone who would come in would think I was a sick freak, for leaving her skin like that on the floor instead of taking it down to the basement with the rest of her. But I was too tired and lazy to care.

I climbed into my soft comfortable flannel pajamas. I sighed when I got into bed, reveling in the familiar. I watched cars dance by my home outside my window, twinkling lights whispering me to sleep like so many ghosts of murdered fireflies. My head swam with dreams of tomorrow and I lazily eyed my knife on the counter. I would be loved soon enough. As I shut my eyes and peacefully sang a little lullaby to myself about cats with peacock feathers as hair. I wondered if it would be a problem that Jennifer was much thinner than I. Then I remembered a tool I head for stretching fabric out. I smiled and sank away from everything into sleep.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Cave

Alice wiped the sweat off her forehead, forgetting that her hand was covered in mud. She cringed and the follicles of earth and water and animal defecation seeped into her open glistening pores. Her auburn ponytail beat against her back while she hiked across the cliff side. The strong ocean breeze pulled at her shorts and shaggy leg hair. She stepped carefully amongst the rocks to keep her balance in the wind. Salt stung her watery eyes and she panted heavily as she struggled beneath her her backpack.

The ocean heaved and thrashed amongst itself. It roared a loud one loud scream layered over another. Thoughts and fears cascading and being pushed under by the throbbing pressure of the water. Sprays hissed and leaped up from the rocks, sending jets a few feet into the air.

Alice pulled her small map book out of her backpocket. She stretched an aching calf muscle while she flipped through the pages of hiking trails. She couldn't identify the path that she was on in her book and her phone had died hours ago. But she wasn't anxious that she was lost, because wherever she was happened to be an okay place to be.

She sat down on the edge of the cliff and looked out into the ocean. A lot of hikers hiked with headphones in but Alice never did. The rattle inside her head was noisy enough and it was nice to finally be away from other people long enough for the internal commotion to quiet itself down. The fresh air smelled like freedom and it smoothed her tensed emotions. For the first time in months she was able to relax. She undressed her aura, peeling off layers of anxiety and discomfort like too many scarves and sweaters in June. She tossed the unwanted anxieties down onto the cliff side. Rolling her tight shoulders, she sighed in relief at how comfortable and unburdened she felt.

Below her jutting out from the cliffside she could see the mouth of a cave sinking into the rocks, deep and hidden from the noisey violent waves. Alice climbed down and crawled into the cave. Once inside the mouth of the cave she could stand up to her full height. Protected by the wind and the sun, she explored the sweet coolness of the shadows. Out the mouth of the cave she could see miles and miles of ocean and sky, melding together in an indistinct blob of everything and nothingness. Clouds of time and feelings kissed each other against the horizon and Alice turned her back on it, seeing it was, only empty beauty.

Alice sat down in the quiet cave and pulled a snack from her backpack. A chirping echoed deep in the cave and tiny claws scampered out from the darkness. A small frog like monster creature nimbly ran towards her. It's scaly tail smacked against the rock floor. It's horns bounced as it ran. Large glowing yellow eyes illuminated the shadows only proving there was nothing to see.

Without flinching, Alice set some of her trail mix on the ground for the monster to eat. Watching her cautiously, it crouched and with tiny claw like hands began to feed itself. It chewed thoughtfully for a moment and then spoke.

"What are you doing here?" The monster said. He had an elegant, polite, but raspy voice.
"Enjoying it."
"It? There's nothing here."
"I'm here," Alice said.
"Oh, right." He paused eating more trail mix. "Are you lonely?"
"That doesn't really mean anything. But maybe, I guess."

The monster didn't say anything. He seemed satisfied with that response and scampered away, kipping a pile of loose stones as he did so. Alice stood up and went to the mouth of the cave, looking out at the view. She thought of everyone and everything, jumbled in too many noises and colors swirling around in her brain, reaching for her with an intense multitude of spider arms. She squinted out against the horizon.

"I wonder if I can see my house from here," she whispered, barely audible against the roar of the ocean.

Alice carefully picked up the loose stones and artfully placed them one on top of the other, constructing an uneven wall. The darkness grew darker and cooler and quieter, and Alice felt safer and calmer as she sealed up the mouth of the cave.